December 24, 2011
Round-Up of Law Practitioner Blogs
Washington DC Metro Personal Injury Lawyer Blog
Examines personal injury cases, news, and related matters in Washington, D.C.. Published by Stein, Mitchell & Muse LLP
Alabama Injury Lawyer Blog
Examines personal injury cases, news, and opinions in Alabama.
Published by Allred & Allred, PC
Florida Workers Compensation Lawyers Blog
Examines workers' compensation news, legal updates and related matters in Florida. Published by Jo Ann Hoffman & Vance B. Moore, P.A.
Illinois Bankruptcy Lawyer Blog
Explores bankruptcy news, debt related topics and case opinions in the greater Chicago, Illinois metro area. Published by M. Hedeyat and Associates, P.C.
Illinois Bankruptcy Lawyers Blog
Examines bankruptcy cases, news, and opinions in Illinois. Published by Sulaiman Law Group. Ltd.
December 23, 2011
Friday Fun: Santa Visits the Library During Finals Week
Santa visits LSU Middleton Library during finals week.
Student: I've been a good boy, Santa
Santa: What would you like for Christmas?
Student: A's on my finals.
Santa: I don't know if I can quite pull that off but I'll see what I can do.
Happy holidays to all. [JH]
December 22, 2011
Author Questions Royalty Rates on eBooks
There’s an interesting story on the Washington Post website where Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon discusses the publication of his works as ebooks. He controls the rights to his earlier works which he has licensed to Open Road Integrated Media. That entity pays him a 50% royalty rate compared to Random House and HarperCollins who control electronic versions of his later works. They give him 25%. As with anyone who understands that electronic editions cost nothing to produce in comparison to print works, he wonders why:
“I agreed to the traditional e-book royalty, which I think is criminally low, because I didn’t really have any legs to stand on. I didn’t want to get left behind in the e-book revolution,” Chabon said recently.
“When it’s comes to royalties on a paper book, that rate (25 percent) is completely fair when you think of the expenses a publisher takes on — the delivery trucks and the factory workers and the distribution chains. But it’s not fair for them to take a roughly identical royalty for an e-book that costs them nothing to produce.”
Neither publishing house would respond to questions. As Amazon and others court established authors wit better rate deals, the traditional big publishers may find themselves as the farm team to the new major leagues. It didn’t take some major artists to shun record companies for their own direct Internet marketing opportunities. The labels had to change with so-called 360 deals for some artists where the labels paid a huge amount up front and got returns from tour and memorabilia sales for the term of the deal. Authors may not be rock stars, but someone such as Amazon working as an imprint with a different economic model may make life miserable for big publishing at some point. [MG]
Controversy Over the ABA Denying Provisional Accreditation to Duncan Law School
Duncan Law School of Lincoln Memorial University was recently featured in David Segal's Dec. 17, 2011 NYT article For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.’s Way. In fact, the article opened and closed with comments from Duncan Law Dean Sydney Beckman.
Opening paragraphs from the article:
The library at the Duncan School of Law may look like nothing more than 4,000 hardbacks in a medium-size room, but it is actually a high-tech experiment in cost containment. Most of its resources are online, and staples like Wright & Miller’s Federal Practice and Procedure — $3,596 for the multivolume set — are not here.
“We have a core collection,” says Sydney Beckman, the school’s dean, “and if someone needs something else, we provide it.”
Duncan, which opened two years ago, has 187 enrollees, all of whom have wagered that this library — and everything else about the school — is up to scratch. Because before these students can practice in every state, Duncan needs the seal of approval of the American Bar Association, the government-anointed regulator of law schools.
That means complying with a long list of standards that shape the composition of the faculty, the library and dozens of other particulars. The basic blueprint was established by elite institutions more than a century ago, and according to critics, it all but prohibits the law-school equivalent of the Honda Civic — a low-cost model that delivers.
Closing paragraphs from the article:
On Dec. 2, Mr. Beckman and six colleagues from Duncan traveled to a hotel in San Juan, P.R., where the A.B.A. held its latest council meeting. The school had 15 minutes at a hearing to offer its arguments for provisional accreditation.
“This is just a pet peeve,” Mr. Beckman said last week, “but there is all this talk about the cost of legal education, and they make us fly to Puerto Rico and meet at the Ritz-Carlton?”
After his presentation, Mr. Beckman and others answered a number of questions, including a few about the job market for lawyers in east Tennessee. This bothered Mr. Beckman because, for antitrust reasons, employment prospects are not part of the A.B.A.’s standards. He pointed that out to the council.
“They didn’t really respond,” he says.
Nor did they hint at whether they would give Duncan a thumbs-up. In the past, law schools have learned a few days after their hearings. But since Dec. 2, there has been nothing. “The last thing we heard — and they didn’t mean this to be rude or anything — was at the end of the meeting in Puerto Rico,” Mr. Beckman says. “They said, 'You can let yourselves out.'“
A mere three days after the New York Times article, Duncan Law was informed that it was denied provisional accreditation by the ABA. Neither the ABA's public notice nor media inquires to the ABA provided an explanation for what certainly is a rare denial. However, in Duncan School of Law denied accreditation, NLJ's Karen Sloan reported the following:
Duncan dean Sydney Beckman said the council had identified problems with the academic credentials of the school's incoming students and the school's ability to provide academic support to those students. School administrators disagreed with those findings, said Beckman, who noted that the council's findings differed from those of the ABA site team that visited the campus.
"We demonstrated in that meeting that we clearly are in compliance with the standards," he said. "It doesn't appear that this decision was based on our compliance."
Do note the opening paragraph of the ABA's public notice (dated Dec. 20, 2011):
At its December 2-3, 2011 meeting, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association denied the application for provisional ABA approval [by Duncan Law] ... Pursuant to ABA Internal Operating Practice 5 of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, this public memorandum is being issued within 24 hours of the time the School was notified of the Council’s decision.
Under ABA rules Duncan Law has 30 days to challenge the decision. Hopefully the school decides to do so. The denial of provisional accreditation will be stayed until the ABA's internal appeal process is completed.
In Revenge Is Best Served… Quickly: ABA DENIES Accreditation To School That Talked To The New York Times, ATL's Elie Mystal writes
I can’t believe I’m about to defend Duncan School of Law at Lincoln Memorial University, but can anybody remember the last time the ABA denied provisional accreditation? To anyone? For any reason or no reason at all?
The timing of this, three days after the New York Times published its article, creates the unmistakable impression that the ABA denied accreditation in retaliation for the school bitching to the Times. How tone deaf are the people who run the ABA?
"Whatever the merits, this certainly fits neatly into Segal's storyline," writes Dan Filler in his The Faculty Lounge blog post, Duncan Law School, Featured In New York Times, Denied Provisional Accreditation. [JH]
Did a Publishing Industry Insider Blow the Whistle on Apple and Publishers Collusion to Set eBook Pricing?
If true it certainly may make it earier to prove an actual conspiracy took place. 30-some nation-wide class action suits, recently consolidated, plus DOJ, states attorneys general and European authorities are investing the alleged price fixing. Until now the allegations that major publishers colluded with Apple to fix eBook prices have been based on speculation from public sources. See Jeff Roberts' Publishing Insider Tipped Law Firms About E-Book Price Fixing Conspiracy on paidContent for details. [JH]
Dear Santa, Please Give AALL a Clue on How to Make Money
Santa, I think AALL needs a business plan to make money in publishing that is not based on ad revenues (which by and large isn't work all that well, anyway). How about reasonably priced AALL imprint p- and e-books on legal research for the general public, ditto for lawyers, ditto for law librarians, ditto for legal skills instruction, ditto for library school instructors. How about collection development and management of print and electronic resources for law librarians, ditto for legal administrators, ditto for library school profs. How about law-related info tech, services and web communications titles. Et cetera.
Now Santa, I am not talking about scholarly works, the usual fodder for LLJ or fluff pieces typically found in Spectrum or Best of LLJ or Spectrum compiliations. I'm talking about substantial monographic treatments (ok, good scholarship would be acceptable under this critera). Nor am I talking about authors being limited to AALL members or even librarians generally.
Santa, Please don't muddle the message so AALL officials can say, "we already doing that by way of our Publishing Initiatives Caucus." While that Caucus has some worthy objectives such as
Inspire and motivate law librarians to write articles for legal publications that are read by practicing attorneys, legal administrators, law professors, judges, and others in organizations that employ AALL members.
Santa, make damn sure that you are giving AALL a "clue" on how to engage in a profit-making venture to sell expertise-driven content to "practicing attorneys, legal administrators, law professors, judges," etc. If AALL officialdom gives you a non-profit association "but, but we really can't do that," remind them of what ALA does; they may need to be reminded that ALA exists. (BTW Santa, perhaps you can remind our professional association's leaders that the clue to resolving its Antitrustism policy issue is to look at ALA's policy instead of listening to their lawyer. Just about every damn attorney but our association knows not to reinvent the wheel from scratch but to check out what other similar organizations are doing. Oops, my bad. Perhaps our association's legal counsel doesn't know ALA exists. But I digress... .)
Why? Why not. Why give away to our major vendors, a few academic presses and the ABA this market niche. Why not try to make some income from publishing to fund AALL activities. That's what ALA does.
For example, ALA has recently announced that Neal-Schuman Publishers is becoming part of ALA Publishing. The Company will continue to offer print and electronic publications under its well-known imprint, but will join ALA Editions, TechSource, and Huron Street Press under the ALA publishing umbrella. Quoting from Neal-Schuman Publishers will sign an agreement to become part of ALA Publishing:
ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels told American Libraries that the acquisition of Neal-Schuman closely supports the Association’s strategic goals, which include making the highest-quality library service available to all library users and making high-quality, affordable continuing education (CE) available to libraries.
Does AALL even have a "publishing umbrella"? Well, yes a little one, about the size of one of those umbrellas in silly cocktails. Does this itty-bitty umbrella provide income to support AALL activities in any substantial way? Hell no.
“The Neal-Schuman imprint will enable the Association to expand its publishing program and bring in new revenue that will augment support for member programs and services,” said ALA Treasurer Jim Neal. “We need to find new financial sources to grow our capacity in legislative advocacy, public awareness, intellectual freedom, diversity, and the full range of ALA priorities.”
Isn't it about time for AALL to find way new financial sources to help fund AALL activities by way of publishing? One that isn't as legal vendor ad revenue tainted as, for example, Spectrum has been. I'm sure we can find a publisher-distributor for an AALL imprint. Perhaps Hein, perhaps Quid Pro Books, what the hell, perhaps under ALA's publishing umbrella under some profit sharing agreement. Perhaps AALL can even come up with a trend-setting law-related eBook lending model. [JH]
December 21, 2011
Ninth Circuit Upholds Safe Harbors In Veoh Case
A while back a federal district court concluded that Internet video service Veoh was entitled to safe harbor protections under the DMCA against charges of copyright infringement made by the Universal Music Group. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the district court in a 49 page opinion. The suit UMG filed against Veoh is very similar to that filed by Viacom against YouTube and Google. The central issue in both is that the video sharing sites are aware of copyrighted materials appearing on their systems and neither is particularly proactive in removing those materials save on takedown notices. Their lax approach, among other reasons, according to plaintiffs, deprives each of the DMCA safe harbor provisions. Google won in the district court much to Viacom’s chagrin. Viacom vowed to appeal.
UMG is a tentacle of the Vivendi entertainment conglomerate and owner of a vast catalog of music and music related videos. Some of these, as the Ninth Circuit states, showed up on Veoh. UMG first argued that Veoh did not fit the definition of a service provider as that status should go to the company that sold Veoh its server space and bandwidth. This argument turned on the phrase “by reason of the storage at the direction of the user.” The Court examined the legislative history of the relevant act and concluded that this interpretation was absurd incorrect:
UMG’s theory fails to account for the reality that web hosts, like Veoh, also store user-submitted materials in order to make those materials accessible to other Internet users. The reason one has a website is so that others may view it.
The argument would make the concept of safe harbors irrelevant, something that makes the statute internally inconsistent.
The second argument UMG advanced was that there were questions of material fact as to whether Veoh had notice of infringing materials on its system. Although UMG did not identify specific instances of copyrighted material available on Veoh, the site should have known it held infringing materials merely because music is copyrighted. Additionally, a Veoh user pointed to infringing material while complaining that his upload was blocked. Other evidence of knowledge is that Veoh purchased Google ad words for some of the named artists on UMG’s roster.
The Court noted that Veoh entered into licensing agreements with other major music companies, including some who shared an artist roster with UMG. The companies were in a better position to know which video was their property rather than Veoh, which was the whole point of the notice and takedown system Congress put in place. As to the third party who complained, that person did not provide a definitive statement as to who owned property rights in a video. The Court minimized the ad word purchase by noting that plenty of companies purchase ad words to other products to drive business to their sites. This does not constitute a form of knowledge under the act that would mitigate the safe harbor protection. UMG raised other specific acts it claimed were general knowledge (the fact that Veoh removed videos under takedown notices implied awareness, for example) which the Court similarly dismissed.
UMG asks us to change course with regard to § 512(c)(1)(A) by adopting a broad conception of the knowledge requirement. We see no principled basis for doing so. We therefore hold that merely hosting a category of copyrightable content, such as music videos, with the general knowledge that one’s services could be used to share infringing material, is insufficient to meet the actual knowledge requirement under § 512(c)(1)(A)(i).
The rest of the opinion devotes itself to discussions of vicarious liability (does not apply given the development of the law to this record) and shareholder liability (no allegations from UMG that showed investors gave material assistance to Veoh to commit acts of infringement).
They must be celebrating this opinion as an early Christmas present in Google headquarters. Though Viacom’s appeal occurs in the Second Circuit, the logic of the Ninth Circuit can’t escape the judges in New York. The opinion is here. [MG]
"Going Mac" in the Legal Industry is Gaining Ground
According to the 2011 Clio Apple in Law Firms Survey results, summarized here, 46.5% of respondents said they chose Apple hardware over PC options because the technology was more reliable and secure. Usability ranked next at 33.8%. Familiarity due to home use of Apple/Mac products was 9.8%, and aesthetics and design came in fourth at only 3%. 76.5% of law students said that when they graduate, they plan on choosing a Mac platform for their office. Of particular interest in that 25.3% of respondents had switched to Mac within the past year.
About this year's survey findings Clio CEO and Co-Founder Jack Newton said:
Apple hardware and devices – especially the iPad and iPhone – continue to capture the attention and dollars of lawyers, cloud-based applications have won attorneys’ confidence and gained more traction. With the majority of law students planning to use Mac apps in their law practices upon graduation, we can reasonably predict a longstanding trend toward continued expansion of Apple products within the legal industry.
763 people participated in the survey, 80% of which were practicing lawyers and 20% of which were law students or non-lawyers. 76% of respondents were lawyers at firms with 10 attorneys or less. [JH]
December 20, 2011
Covering SCOTUS: Thomson Reuters' Case by Case vs SCOTUSblog, Sponsored by Bloomberg Law
On December 13, 2011, Thomson Reuters launched "a dynamic interactive online tool offering comprehensive coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011-12 term. Case by Case: The U.S. Supreme Court, accessed at www.reuters.com/supreme-court/2011-2012, combines original reporting from Thomson Reuters News & Insights (www.newsandinsight.com) with links to an extensive collection of analysis and legal materials, including motions, briefs and opinions, all sourced from Westlaw... ." Quoting from Legal Currents. TR press release here. Like TR News & Insights this is another corporate avenue to promote subscribing to Westlaw to access cited content. I'm actually surprised the links aren't to WestlawNext as an attempt to increase WLN adoption rates.
Case in point for Case by Case. Check out the entry for Judulang v. Holder. [click on image below to enlarge] Besides the ever so brief summary of the opinion -- "comprehensive coverage", "extensive collection of analysis" really? -- (and failure to even give the case's docket number; that would be No. 10–694) the text of the SCOTUS opinion as well as Petitioner's and the Respondent's briefs are linked to Classic Westlaw. Click on the links. For example, the link to the opinion takes you to the Westlaw login page; the briefs' links takes you to web2westlaw.com which in my case produces a blank page display. I'm thinking SCOTUS briefs are not part of my plan.
So Reuters (and I say Reuters because of the domain name) is getting into the SCOTUS news and insights business with Westlaw links-to. Oh hell, why not. It's all about profit maximizing commoditization anyway, right?
Free Access and Real Expertise. Sleep well SCOTUSblog and its sponsor. You aren't going to lose one eyeball to Case by Case even if one views TR's venture as an attempt to wedge itself into this niche. Free access to public domain source materials and equally free real expertise trumps this lame attempt by Reuters. For Judulang v. Holder, 10–694, SCOTUSblog provides links to free content ... to not just the SCOTUS opinion and the opinion below, but also to the argument transcript, merit briefs, amicus briefs and the blog's coverage, including expert analysis on this page.
Take for example, SCOTUSblog's Opinion analysis: Judulang v. Holder written by Kevin Johnson, UC-Davis Law Dean and a recognized immigration law expert who, ah OK, is also a co-editor of one of our Network Blogs, ImmigrationProf Blog. In this SCOTUSblog illustration, the Judulang v. Holder opinion is linked to the Supreme Court's website and every cited opinion in Dean Johnson's analysis is linked to free BLaw text.
Got to love it when one major legal publisher tweaks the nose of another major legal publisher. And there you have it -- "'Bloomberg Law <First>,' Westlaw <Next>". There is a reason why TR Legal is known as the Land of 10,000 Invoices Licenses. Enough said. Well, not quite. See image above right on what someone in Eagan, NYC or Canada needs to do to the TR corporate guru who came up with this idea. [JH]
|Click to enlarge; screen capture taken on Dec. 15, 2011|
Opening: Public Services Librarian, Alaska State Court Law Library
The Alaska Court System (ACS) Law Library is seeking an Anchorage-based Law Librarian to provide legal research and general reference assistance in person, on the phone, and by email; and to develop training materials to assist library patrons in the use of law library resources in print and electronically. Primary duties will include:
REFERENCE: Provide legal research assistance and respond to reference questions received in person or by phone or email from Judiciary and other court personnel, attorneys, paralegals, pro se litigants, and members of the general public.
PATRON INSTRUCTION / TRAINING: Develop and update library handouts, including educational material and research guides; and provide current awareness services to court staff.
COMPUTER AND WEBSITE MAINTENANCE: Work with Web Services Librarian and Information Services (IT) staff to configure and maintain public access computers, in Anchorage and all library branches statewide; manage Westlaw passwords for court staff statewide, acquire new passwords and cancel existing passwords as appropriate; and assist the Court Webmaster and Web Services Librarian with content review, maintenance, and renovation of court system and law library websites.
SUPERVISION / OTHER DUTIES: Hire, train, and supervise library assistants who staff the Anchorage Reference Desk and the Fairbanks, Juneau, and Ketchikan branches. Create the Anchorage reference desk schedule and provide staff training on new resources. Participate in full range of professional duties relating to the organization and administration of the Alaska State Court law libraries, including but not limited to, professional meetings and workshops, staff meetings, employee selection, compilation of statistics, preparation and enforcement of library policies, and current awareness of developments in law librarianship.
HOW TO APPLY: Complete recruitment information with minimum qualification information is available on Workplace Alaska, http://workplace.alaska.gov. To view vacancies, go to the Job Posting Board, click on Departments, and then click on Court System. Applicants must submit a completed Applicant Profile and Job Qualification Summary Form through Workplace Alaska by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
For more information, contact Human Resources at recruitment(at)courts.state.ak.us or 907-264-8242.
For more information on the Alaska Court System and our mission, visit http://www.courts.alaska.gov. For more information on the ACS Law Library, please visit: http://www.courts.alaska.gov/library.htm.
The Alaska Court System is an equal employment opportunity employer and supports workplace diversity.
December 19, 2011
Court Questions Existence of An Academic Privilege of Confidentiality
There’s an opinion out of federal district court in Boston from last Friday that’s making the rounds of academic news sites. It’s the case In Re: Request from the United Kingdom Pursuant to the Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters in the Matter of Dolours Price. The opinion is a response to a motion by the Trustees of Boston College to quash a subpoena seeking oral histories and other documents from the Belfast Project under treaty obligations of the United States.
Boston College researchers created the Belfast Project to collect historical information about the violence that plagued Britain and Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s. Individuals with some connection to events were interviewed with a promise of confidentiality, though there are questions as to whether that representation was guaranteed in light of law enforcement requests. The Government of the United Kingdom invoked its mutual legal assistance treaty with the United States seeking the materials held by Boston College in its library relating to specific individuals and specific events. The United States cooperated by issuing subpoenas.
The University met the demand for at least one oral history, as the person involved had died, thus breaking the need for confidentiality. They challenge the subpoena for other material on the basis of an academic privilege similar to that of a journalist. The court acknowledged the interest an academic has in protecting confidential sources in gathering historical information but stopped short of likening it to a journalist’s privilege. In any event, the court stated, a journalist’s privilege is not absolute in a criminal context. Factors such as whether the information is available from other sources or through other means come in to play in deciding the question. The Project Director, for example, had already published a book and documentary based on materials from the project, so it’s not as if all of the archive was maintained as a secret.
The court examined First Circuit precedent and decided that the best course was to conduct an in camera review of the subpoenaed material to determine whether it should be ultimately turned over to the United Kingdom under treaty obligations. The judge allowed time for Boston College to seek a stay of his order on appeal. Boston College indicated that it would not appeal but would hand over the materials as ordered.
Academics decried the result as a threat to academic freedom. If this goes through, as some claimed in the comments to the story from Inside Higher Ed, no one would give oral histories. I think that is a bit of an exaggeration, as many oral histories do not necessarily implicate potential criminal prosecutions. I think that anyone who could be criminally charged would think twice before telling their story to someone who may or may not have the ability to keep it a secret. Additional coverage is in the Chronicle of Higher Education. [MG]
Impervious to Change: Happy Law Faculty, ABA Gatekeeper, US News Rankings All Contribute to ...
... The Price to Play Its Way, David Segal's latest NYT article. [JH]
"Ready Access" Tools: p- and e-Credenza wars for the hearts and minds and pocketbooks of practitioners
Remember TR Senior Director, Librarian Relations, Anne Ellis' response to CRIV's Shaun Esposito about format switcheroos to pamphet editions of West print titles previously published in hardbound volumes with pocket parts or loose-leaf sets back in November? No, well after the "Dear Colleagues ... thank you"" mantra, TR Legal responded to Esposito's series of CRIV questions:
Is there a list of titles with a time table?
We're developing an updated list now, and will provide a schedule of product updates that will be converted from loose-leaf to softbound product in the first quarter of 2012.
How are customers notified?
Letters are sent to customers, prior to the shipment of the converted product, notifying them of the format change. Additionally, a reply card is included in every shipment so that we can continually monitor and collect customer feedback.
Isn't it more expensive to print a new volume (even paperback) than it would be to issue a pocket part or small supplement?
The decision to change a particular product's format from loose-leaf to softbound product is largely cost-neutral. This change is done simply because it makes the most sense for those products that are less frequently updated. Most importantly, softbound products are preferred by customers because they reduce filing errors and the need to hire temporary help to update volumes. They also make it considerably easier for customers to update their collections. Customers also have indicated a preference for softbound products because they save time and money.
Isn't a loose-leaf updating format a better "green" practice?
Given all the factors that go into producing both formats - loose-leaf and softbound - they can be considered equally "green."
How were customers selected to take part in the pilot program?
The pilot program involved titles that were selected based on how often they were updated, not specific customers. If a particular customer subscribed to a product that met the pilot criteria, the customer would receive the product in the new format and we would then follow up with a survey. Baseline thresholds for loose-leaf updating now include one- to three-volume titles that are updated annually, or one- to two-volume titles that are updated twice per year. We also talk with authors and editorial teams to get their opinions whether softbound updating would best serve the specific needs and purposes of each title.
What types of firms/libraries participated in the pilot programs?
Again, the pilot program involved titles that were selected based on how often they were updated, not on specific customers. The pilot included customers from all segments.
OY! Life is just too damn short to annotate each scripted response with a reality-check. Besides, no one really believes the cited customer input thing as being why TR Legal really made this tactical move as part of a strategic marketing decision in the credenza war, right? (Hell, I do remember taking some sort of TR electronic delivered customer survey about eBooks-eReaders-users many months ago. I think I was into the second question wherein I responded something like "no or not yet interested." In the logic of survey question tree branching, one would think TR Legal would want to know more about this response but this so-called customer survey didn't. My negative response terminated the survey with something that said to the effect, "well then, we don't want to hear anything more from you." But I digress... .)
Now, here are "two" questions not asked by CRIV's narrow focus but I will answer them for TR Legal.
Q: What is the marketing objective of this format switcheroo movement for these new editions of secondary sources?
A: To sell more of the titles directly to practitioners. They can then put the pamphlets on their credenza so they won't have to walk all the way to the law library. Like OMG dude, think of the increased guaranteed revenue stream! From one copy in the law library to copies for every attorney who practices in the area covered by these titles on standing order. Just about every damn tax attorney has the annual US Master Tax Guide in his office. Ditto gifts and estate tax practitioners. You got any idea how many labor and employment lawyers have BNA treatises in their office. Ditto IP attorneys. And those BNA hardcopy titles with soft cover updates aren't cheap! We think practitioners are dumb enough not to know the editorial qualitiy differential vis a via BNA and CCH for our forthcoming line of cradenza ready access pamphlets. Besides we can't let RIA, WG&L and PPC have all the fun. We're fighting the linear feet war for limited credenza space. Every inch matters!
Q: Yeah but (?)
A: Bro, stop right there. In the spirit of our "partnership," don't you get it! This is just the first step. The next marketing objective is to sell these pamphlets in eBook format using our ProView platform for a mark-up because they will be enhanced versions of the print editions. Once we do that buyers of our pamphlets will want to convert their p-standing orders to automatic licensing renewals for their ProViewed eBooks. You see, we already know that many of our traditional deskbook pamplets of "cradenza-ed" primary materials are not annually acquired for two reasons: the price we charge for nominal changes and practitioners don't want to lose there margin note. Our ProView platform will retain and carry over margin notes for old to new editions. Should we deny that functionality for secondary sources being format switched? Pretty soon you will be reading from Marketing about how our customers want us to ProView everything to "meet their needs in the most convenient and use-friendly [ProView] formats. At least then the above response to being "green" won't sound so lame.
Deskbooks will be the new center of the private law library as Kevin Miles suggests in his recent Spectrum article, Library on a Credenza: Well-annotated deskbooks as the new center of the private law library, with one very important qualification -- these nouveau "ready access" tools will be at the new center of law firm library acquistions spending. After private law libraries place standing orders for TR Legal's freshly converted titles in bulk, they will also be hard pressed not to license their ProView editions in bulk when offered as well. ProView editions will cost more than the p-book prices (current ProView editions of court rules and the like have a list price of about 10% more than their p-editions.) And ProView links-to will send users to WestlawNext, not Classic Westlaw. You know what that means for firms that haven't signed up for WLN yet.
As for the selection of TR Legal titles to experience the p-format switch for credenza-tion (and eventually experience being ProView-ed), do note that this first step is allegedly narrow focus on "one- to three-volume titles that are updated annually, or one- to two-volume titles that are updated twice per year." Ah, sorry Anne but in case you aren't in the know continue reading.
Get Ready for "Ready Access" Pamphlets That are Part of Larger Print Volume Sets. Case in point, the brand new, recently released Graham's Handbook of Federal Evidence, 7th Ed. (2011). (List print price: $735.00) Quoting from the Shipment Insert:
Depth of analysis invites a “READY ACCESS” tool. Shortly after the Evidence Rules were first adopted in 1975, West engaged Michael Graham to analyze them in a new Handbook. In writing and maintaining this work over the past 36 years, the author has considered every published case regarding these Rules. The result is today what was the beginning goal: “to provide the trial attorney and presiding judge – whether in court, in chambers, or in the office – a clear, precise, and, where possible, concise statement of what the law of evidence is in a convenient-to-use format.” As the authored analysis now extends to over 6,000 pages in six volumes, a one volume READY ACCESS softcover gives users a handy and portable quick reference guide to the larger treatise. As described in the Preface, READY ACCESS enables one to reach a destination in print or online ASAP.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. With the new Rules, the expanded coverage, and the new READY ACCESS unit, the Handbook 7th is not your father’s treatise. Yet, still under the guiding hand of its originating author, it continues to accomplish its abiding goal: exposing the practical operation of the Federal Rules of Evidence in a convenient-to-use format.
The "ready access" pamphlet is nothing more than a deskbook. However in this case it is also clearly labeled Volume 1 of the seven volume set. The other volumes, excluding the pamphet index volume, are hardbound with slits for pocket parts. There is no doubt in my mind that we will see "Vol. 1" published annually and probably ProView-ed.
Do note, one can buy "Vol. 1" separately at a list print price of $67.00. At the moment I'm wondering what the authors of Courtroom Handbook on Federal Evidence, 2011 ed. might be thinking. Their one volume pamphet, which will eventually be updated for the restyled FRE, covers essentially the same ground including some commentary, but its current p-Book list price is $153.00.
Deskbooks are not new. They have been around as pamphlets as long as I have been a law librarian, like much longer than the MBA-types who are running (to the ground) TR Legal these days. This form of publication is however expanding in scope to include many more secondary sources. And that will only increase because, like it our not (and frankly, under the right circumstances, I like it) all this is production and marketing staging for law eBooks by TR Legal (and Lexis, et. al).
Kevin Miles offers a set of best practices for deskbooks in Library on a Credenza: Well-annotated deskbooks as the new center of the private law library, and suggests the creation of a wiki to share professional intelligence about them. All fine and well as long as no one says "based on review of comparable deskbooks, vendor X's is worth the cost and vendor Y's isn't." Here's Miles' call for action:
Further action about deskbooks is needed. I propose that a complete listing of deskbooks be available on the Private Law Libraries (PLL) Special Interest Section website in a wiki. This will be “crowd sourced” by members of PLL for completeness and currency. Finally, the wiki will serve as a source of information for library school students, law librarians, lawyers, and publishers.
"Ready Access" Tool: Evaluating p-Deskbooks. In and of itself this is a consumer advocacy call but unless the wiki is accessible to all, by which I mean it is not closed within the walled garden of AALL web communications inaccessible by general web search engines, lawyers, and law school students who are not AALL members will not be able to access this crowd-sourced professional intelligence of a product line being marketed to practitioners. In evaluating deskbooks, this is a case of advocating for individual consumers in addition to institutional buyers.
Miles offers an excellent est practices checklist for the elements of a model p-Deskbook in terms of completeness and currency. What's missing, however, is the terms and conditions of purchasing including the billing options available by the vendor to compete the picture. That however, was beyond the scope of his Spectrum article so no criticism is intended or implied. The model p-Deskbook proposed by Miles is a damn good starting point for p-Deskbooks.
"Ready Access" Tool: Evaluating e-Deskbooks. The future of e-Deskbooks is sufficiently obvious to be "here." The issues at hand for e-Deskbooks include content quality, completeness and currency plus unique features to the enhanced law eBook format like links-thru, upsells, disability compliance, the terms and conditions of licenses and buying options. If we follow AALL dogma, we can't share professional expertise that interferes with contractual relations. However, AALL as an organization of institutional buyers damn well better get in front of this issue instead of reacting to it years down the road with strings of hollow sentences.
Our very expensive professional legal services vendors view growth in terms of the individual consumer of law e-Books following the Amazon model. Many of those targeted are practitioners who are employed by member institutional buyers. Many more are not. But they can all benefit from our professional intelligence. If they don't because AALL does not provide a vehicle for sharing professional expertise, the basis for collective professional intelligence, open to all to access and read, once again our professional association will have failed.
End Note. Last week, I tried to license the least expensive currently offered ProView eBook that is clearly e-cradenza ready for Ohio litigators. It was one volume in the three volume Ohio Rules of Court - State, Federal, and Local, a pamphlet set that is not part of TR Legal's print format switcheroo scheme. All I wanted was the one volume for look-see purposes but I did not execute the licensing agreement, hence I did not buy it, because it required that I check a box which stated:
By choosing this subscription option, Subscriber is purchasing a license to this eBook and understands that West will be providing updates as they become available. All updates will be billed at then-current rates and charged to Subscriber’s account when they are delivered. Subscriber may decline any update by contacting West Customer Service within 45 days of receiving an update. However, the subscription will remain in effect until terminated upon Subscriber’s written request or is terminated by West. In either event, Subscriber will be entitled to have access to any previously ordered eBook(s) and any accepted updates pursuant to the eBook terms and conditions. Please agree to the terms.
After I tried to execute the purchase without checking the box, the above message popped up again. If my always short-term faulty memory isn't failing me (again), "Please agree to the terms" was displayed in red the second time. You know what that means, right? [JH]
December 18, 2011
Browsing On A Sunday: Secret Contracts, Another Dean Goes, and Let It Snow
The story of the missing Megaupload to YouTube gets stranger as time goes on. Universal demanded of the video featuring major artists in support of Megaupload be removed. The assumption was that the takedown request was filed in accordance with the DMCA for copyright violation. That seemed a bit iffy given Megaupload’s contracts with the artists and the DMCA’s requirement that the takedown requester have ownership of the intellectual property at issue.
Megaupload sued Universal and now we find out that Universal is claiming this has nothing to do with the DMCA but a secret agreement with YouTube instead. CNET News has a story with links to the letter Universal sent to YouTube invoking the agreement. It seems as if Universal has the legal right to remove from YouTube any content it doesn’t like. I believe Cory Doctorow’s statement that Universal is unfit to wield power over free expression under the proposed SOPA still stands. See previous LLB coverage here. For whatever reason, Universal’s action may have backfired on them. The video is currently unblocked on YouTube and has not quite 2.5 million views at the time of this writing. Hey Megaupload, send me a file today, as the song goes.
Another law dean resigned a little over a week ago, and the resignation was not without its own controversy. Dean Larry Sager resigned at the request of University of Texas President William Powers, himself a former law dean at Townes Hall. The stories say that Powers had concerns on how faculty compensation was doled out. It seems there were forgivable loans and other stipends that faculty received as retention incentives, at least according to news reports. The University of Texas School of Law Foundation gave Sager some $500,000, ostensibly to equalize him with what other deans made. Powers said he wasn’t aware of the loan, “and that's the sort of thing I would remember,” he is quoted as saying. UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa has ordered a review of how foundation money flows into the law school. Stefanie Lindquist has been named acting dean.
Want to make your browser a little bit more in time with the season? Open a browser window to Google and type in the words “let it snow” and watch the virtual flakes come down. Keep watching and the page goes to white out conditions. Use your cursor as a snow shovel to clean it out. Oh, and the results for the search match the query. It’s winter fun for all. [MG]
Round-Up of Law Practitioner Blogs
Indiana Injury And Family Lawyer Blog
Examines injury and family law cases, news, and opinions in Indiana. Published by Padove Law.
Bay Area Divorce Lawyer Blog
Examines divorce cases, news and related matters in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Bay Area, California. Published by Lorna Jaynes.
Maryland DUI Lawyer Blog
Discusses DUI cases, news, and related criminal law matters in Maryland. Published by Goldstein & Stamm, P.A.
Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney Blog
Examines criminal defense cases, news, and opinions in Jacksonville, Florida. Published by Mussallem and Associate, PA.
San Antonio Criminal Lawyers Blog
Discusses criminal law cases, news, and related matters in San Antonio, Texas. Published by the Law Office of Danya L. Jones.